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What is the greenest country in the world?

In January of this year, Yale University presented their latest Environmental Performance Index (EPI) Report naming Finland as the greenest country in the world. We take a look at the report and its key findings.

What is the EPI?

The EPI builds on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), formally adopted in September 2015. The main objective of the report is to assess and rank how 180 countries protect their ecosystems and human health, while in the process naming the greenest country in the world. 

“The EPI Data ranks countries’ performance on high-priority environmental issues in two areas: protection of human health and protection of ecosystems.”
– EPI Report

The ranking covers nine categories: agriculture, air quality, biodiversity and habitat, climate and energy, forests, fisheries, health impacts, water resources, and water and sanitation. To calculate a country’s performance, the EPI draws on 20 key indicators to create an overall score out of 100, with 100 being the best score and 0 the worst. The greenest country in the world was Finland, scoring 90.68.

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Key headlines

In addition to the overall country rankings, the EPI provides an overview of global environmental performance and identifies the following nine key trends:

  1. More deaths globally occur due to poor air quality than water.

greenest country in the world - deaths from water air polution

2. More than 3.5 billion people – half of the world’s population – live in nations with unsafe air quality.

3. The number of people lacking access to clean water has been cut nearly in half from 960 million in 2000 to 550 million today; around 8% of the world’s population. Around 2.4 billion people lack access to sanitation.

4. Around 34% of global fish stocks are over-exploited or collapsed.

5. Around 4% of terrestrial habitats and 8.4% of marine habitats in 2014 were protected.

6. An area of 52 million km2 of tree cover was lost in 2014 – roughly twice the size of Peru.

7. Almost a quarter of countries (23%) have no wastewater treatment.

8. Only 20% of countries are meeting targets for Nitrogen Use Efficiency.

9. Around one-third of countries scored on Climate and Energy are reducing their carbon intensity.


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A global problem

The world is making progress and addressing some environmental issues (access to drinking water and sanitation) but global air quality exhibits a troubling decline. The interactive map below shows concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) across the whole world, along with visual representations of the world’s dirtiest power plants and major cities. A larger map can be viewed here.

Nearly all countries have shown an overall EPI improvement over the last decade, since the last assessment. Countries already at higher levels of performance such as North America and Europe have not improved nearly as much as developing countries in the same period.

At the same time, there is a clear correlation between unstable governance and poor EPI performance. The index’s bottom third comprises predominantly African and South- and East-Asian states whose problems extend beyond their inability to sustain environmental and human health. It is clear that only functioning governments are able to manage their environments for the benefit of their populations.

greenest country in the world map

The greenest country in the world

Finland’s position as the greenest country in the world is a consequence of its continued commitment to achieving a carbon-neutral society. The country’s government is devoted to not exceeding “nature’s carrying capacity” by 2050.

Finland has a legally binding goal of consuming 38% of its final energy from renewable sources by 2020. It already produces nearly two-thirds of its electricity from renewable or nuclear power sources.

The country stands as an example to the rest of the world. 

Rank Country Score
1 Finland 90.68
2 Iceland 90.51
3 Sweden 90.43
4 Denmark 89.21
5 Slovenia 88.98
6 Spain 88.91
7 Portugal 88.63
8 Estonia 88.59
9 Malta 88.48
10 France 88.20
11 New Zealand 88.00
12 United Kingdom 87.38
13 Australia 87.22
14 Singapore 87.04
15 Croatia 86.98
16 Switzerland 86.93
17 Norway 86.90
18 Austria 86.64
19 Ireland 86.60
20 Luxembourg 86.58
21 Greece 85.81
22 Latvia 85.71
23 Lithuania 85.49
24 Slovakia 85.42
25 Canada 85.06
26 United States of America 84.72
27 Czech Republic 84.67
28 Hungary 84.60
29 Italy 84.48
30 Germany 84.26
31 Azerbaijan 83.78
32 Russia 83.52
33 Bulgaria 83.40
34 Romania 83.24
35 Belarus 82.30
36 Netherlands 82.03
37 Armenia 81.60
38 Poland 81.26
39 Japan 80.59
40 Cyprus 80.24
41 Belgium 80.15
42 Costa Rica 80.03
43 Argentina 79.84
44 Ukraine 79.69
45 Cuba 79.04
46 Brazil 78.90
47 Montenegro 78.89
48 Serbia 78.67
49 Israel 78.14
50 Macedonia 78.02
51 Panama 78.00
52 Chile 77.67
53 Tunisia 77.28
54 Jamaica 77.02
55 Moldova 76.69
56 Venezuela 76.23
57 Colombia 75.93
58 Dominican Republic 75.32
59 Fiji 75.29
60 Taiwan 74.88
61 Albania 74.38
62 Trinidad and Tobago 74.34
63 Malaysia 74.23
64 Morocco 74.18
65 Uruguay 73.98
66 Philippines 73.70
67 Mexico 73.59
68 Belize 73.55
69 Kazakhstan 73.29
70 Dominica 73.25
71 Kyrgyz Republic 73.13
72 Tajikistan 73.05
73 Peru 72.95
74 Jordan 72.24
75 Guyana 71.14
76 Bolivia 71.09
77 Mauritius 70.85
78 Namibia 70.84
79 Botswana 70.72
80 South Korea 70.61
81 South Africa 70.52
82 Paraguay 70.36
83 Algeria 70.28
84 Turkmenistan 70.24
85 Samoa 70.20
86 Bahrain 70.07
87 Qatar 69.94
88 Honduras 69.64
89 Guatemala 69.64
90 Equatorial Guinea 69.59
91 Thailand 69.54
92 UAE 69.35
93 The Bahamas 69.34
94 Lebanon 69.14
95 Saudi Arabia 68.63
96 Suriname 68.58
97 El Salvador 68.07
98 Brunei Darussalam 67.86
99 Turkey 67.68
100 Gabon 67.37
101 Syria 66.91
102 Tonga 66.86
103 Ecuador 66.58
104 Egypt 66.45
105 Iran 66.32
106 Zambia 66.06
107 Indonesia 65.85
108 Sri Lanka 65.55
109 China 65.10
110 Bhutan 64.99
111 Georgia 64.96
112 Seychelles 64.92
113 Kuwait 64.41
114 Mongolia 64.39
115 Nicaragua 64.19
116 Iraq 63.97
117 Senegal 63.73
118 Uzbekistan 63.67
119 Libya 63.29
120 Grenada 63.28
121 Bosnia and Herzegovina 63.28
122 Antigua & Barbuda 62.55
123 Kenya 62.49
124 Swaziland 60.63
125 Kiribati 60.48
126 Oman 60.13
127 Cote d’Ivoire 59.89
128 Congo 59.56
129 Zimbabwe 59.25
130 Ghana 58.89
131 Viet Nam 58.50
132 Tanzania 58.34
133 Nigeria 58.27
134 Vanuatu 57.74
135 Uganda 57.56
136 Cameroon 57.13
137 Maldives 57.10
138 Timor-Leste 55.79
139 Guinea 55.40
140 Barbados 54.96
141 India 53.58
142 Gambia 52.09
143 Cape Verde 51.98
144 Pakistan 51.42
145 Angola 51.32
146 Cambodia 51.24
147 Rwanda 50.34
148 Laos 50.29
149 Nepal 50.21
150 Yemen 49.79
151 Malawi 49.69
152 Comoros 49.20
153 Myanmar 48.98
154 Sao Tome & Principe 48.28
155 Guinea-Bissau 48.20
156 Papua New Guinea 48.02
157 Lesotho 47.17
158 Solomon Islands 46.92
159 Central African Republic 46.46
160 Mauritania 46.31
161 Togo 46.10
162 Sierra Leone 45.98
163 Ethiopia 45.83
164 Djibouti 45.29
165 Burkina Faso 43.71
166 Benin 43.66
167 Liberia 43.42
168 Burundi 43.37
169 Haiti 43.28
170 Sudan 42.25
171 Dem. Rep. Congo 42.05
172 Mozambique 41.82
173 Bangladesh 41.77
174 Mali 41.48
175 Chad 37.83
176 Afghanistan 37.50
177 Niger 37.48
178 Madagascar 37.10
179 Eritrea 36.73
180 Somalia 27.66

 Download the full Environmental Performance Index (EPI) Report.

(Lead image: Dreamstime)

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